South By Southwest Preview, Part 1

SXSW 2008 Preview

To prep for the 2008 South By Southwest music festival in, I’m arming myself with an alphabetical list of the groups performing and an active Internet connection with the goal of listening to top tracks from as many bands as possible and offering my impressions here.

The reactions will be quick and dirty, reflecting my own musical taste and ignorance, but if they save me or anyone else from accidentally sitting through a performance of Hey, How’s Your News, then they will be worth it.

The A-Alikes

They are: a hip-hop duo originating in Tallahassee, although the SXSW website lists them as being from Brooklyn.

Sounds like:…I should listen to more hip hop. I don’t know—a more subdued Wu-Tang Clan?

The tracks (Yahoo Music Jukebox):

What’s Your Politic?

Mellow voices mouth standard social-conscious lyrics over a subtle bass beat with string arrangements. The flow is comfortable, but not too energetic or acrobatic.

What You Give

A smooth Tupac-esque “California” beat with some backing organ and a couple guitar leads. The rappers give us a slow, measured flow about authenticity as occasional falsetto voices distract us in the background.

We Hungry

Plucked-string beats are interspersed with periodic synth breaks. The late 1990s flow sounds a little homemade, a little too spoken.

The verdict: Nicely packaged hip hop, but without much energy to set it apart. Fans of the genre might appreciate it more, but I’ll be passing.


They are: a self-described “shoegaze” band from Athens, Georgia

Sounds like: Dirty Three

The Tracks (MySpace)

Fall Triumph

This instrumental track has a melodic intro build into a driving guitar jam. Nice dynamics, with plenty of drums, keep things interesting.

The Verdict: They should put more than one song on MySpace. Seriously, how am I supposed to decide from that? From what I’ve heard, instrumental fans might appreciate them, but I like lyrics.


They are: according to Wikipedia, “a band formed by singer songwriter Riley Briggs in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2002.”

Sounds like: a groovy synth Of Montreal with male/female harmonies

The Tracks (MySpace)

Love Is An Arrow

A male lead singer sing-songs about love over female backing tracks and a mellow acoustic groove. Strings and a light organ round out an almost lounge-y sound.

Summer’s Gone

A plucked guitar and a repeating Casio team up with woodblocks to produce a nice, well, summery sound.


The 80s synth breaks evoke a Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack song that’s been dipped in honey. Structurally, the song doesn’t seem to catch a groove like the previous two.

The verdict: Nicely arranged, but a little cutesy for me. The delicate sound and harmonies might not come off live. Still, Summer’s Gone might be a nice download to save until June.